The Belarusian Justice sentenced this Tuesday to 18 years in prison the opposition Sergei Tijanovski, husband of the opposition leader in exile, Svetlana Tijanóvskaya.
Tijanovski, arrested at the end of May 2020, was sentenced for preparing and organizing mass riots before the start of the campaign for the fraudulent presidential elections in August of that year, according to the official BELTA agency.RELATED
According to the indictment, the 43-year-old opponent openly called from his YouTube blog to resort to violence against officials and members of the security forces, which is equivalent to instigating hatred against a social group.
He was also accused of obstructing the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and disturbing public order by calling pickets in the city of Grodno in late May 2020 to collect signatures. The opposition blogger was arrested during the picket in Grodno, in which a policeman was allegedly injured.
“I will continue to defend the person I love and who became the leader of millions of Belarusians,” Tijanóvskaya said on his Telegram channel on Tuesday.
Tijanóvskaya, an exile in Lithuania, has pointed to a video before the ruling was made public in which she stated: “One year, twenty, one hundred, is not normal. It is illegal and inadmissible.”
Tijanovski, who launched the campaign “STOP the cockroach” in reference to the authoritarian Belarusian president, Alexandr Lukashenko, tried to present his candidacy for the Presidential elections, but the CEC rejected his request.
Then, he tried to collect signatures for his wife, Svetlana, who was finally able to run for office and was the second most voted candidate after Lukashenko, who was reelected with more than 80% of the votes, a vote labeled as fraudulent by the opposition and the West.
Shortly afterwards, Tijanóvskaya explained to EFE that she decided to stand in the elections, since “my husband’s life depends on it.”
Both the opposition leader, who went into exile the day after the elections, and Western diplomacy have since demanded the immediate release of the considered political prisoner.
Tijanovski became one of the most popular men in the former Soviet republic with the YouTube channel “A country for life” in which he spoke of the arbitrariness of the Belarusian bureaucracy, after which he decided to challenge Lukashenko at the polls, in power since 1994.
Last September, Tijanóvskaya’s ally, Maria Kolésnikova, the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize for freedom of conscience, was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Another presidential hopeful, banker Víktor Babariko, was sentenced in July to 14 years for alleged bribery and money laundering.
The rest of the opposition leaders have had to go into exile, as well as hundreds of activists and participants in the anti-government protests that broke out on August 9, 2020.